Units of American Express Co., Citigroup Inc., and MBNA Corp. took the top honors in J.D. Power and Associates' latest quality survey of the credit card industry.

Amid a show of strength by some of the biggest and most aggressive companies in the business, American Express' Optima card finished first in customer loyalty in the broad gold/classic category. It edged out last year's leader, Chase Manhattan Corp.'s cobranded card with Wal-Mart Stores.

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